Tampa Water Department Awards Three Hillsborough County Students

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TAMPA, FL (February 13, 2015) – Three of the estimated 2,000 Hillsborough County students competing in this year’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Fair on February 4th and 5th  were chosen to receive the Tampa Water Department’s Drinking Water Award. The winning students submitted projects that focused on drinking water and/or water conservation research, and received award-winning scores based on rigorous judging criteria. Only one award-winning student was selected for each grade level: elementary, secondary and high school.

Kylie Lewis, the elementary division award-winner from Pride Elementary School, presented the Tampa Water Department judges with a project titled “What’s In Your Water?” Her project investigated the contents of drinking water from various neighborhoods and looked for correlations to the useful lifespan of filter cartridges for in-home filtration systems.

Ohm Patel, the junior division award winner from Tomlin Middle School, presented the judges with a project titled “Solar Water Desalination.” He constructed two small scale solar distillation units that produced purified water from saltwater. He measured and compared the productivity of the units using two different substrates: black construction paper and aluminum foil.

Kishan Avaiya, the senior division award-winner from Strawberry Crest High School, presented the judges with a project titled “The Effect of Combining Moringa Oleifera Extract with Reduced Amounts of Alum to Facilitate Destabilization of Suspended Particle Charges.” His project explored the potential to reduce the use of alum (aluminum potassium sulfate) in drinking water production by using the seeds collected from Moringa oleifera, or drumstick tree, a plant commonly cultivated in Asia and Africa for food production. Kishan’s work demonstrated that an equivalent level of water clarity can be achieved when 40% of the required alum is replaced with a powdered form of the seeds produced by Moringa oleifera.

Each winning student received a gift card, a Certificate of Achievement and a Water Conservation Kit.  Information on Tampa’s Drinking Water Awards and this year’s winners are available online at www.tampagov.net/water/info/education/science-fair.